The End of an Era?
This book has shown that family life and family law underwent such significant change during the last quarter of the twentieth century that the form of family law as a whole in the 1950s was closer to that of the 1890s than to that of the 1980s. Historically, an individual’s rights and duties, his or her social role, depended on the individual’s relationship to social institutions. Being married and being born into a marriage was as important as social class or religious affiliation in determining the nature of an individual’s social relationships. Confidence in institutions was probably undermined by revelations of domestic violence between adults, and of child abuse within families and in institutional settings. Possibly because welfarism had not taken such a deep hold in the United States as in England and Wales, the challenge to traditional forms from the ideologies of rights and empowerment was more dramatic. For many years the battle has centred on the issue of abortion.
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